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UFC 220: Miocic vs Ngannou


Who wins and how?   

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Saturday 20th January. Back on PPV. Back in Boston. 


Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou - Heavyweight Title

Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir - Light Heavyweight Title

Shane Burgos vs Calvin Kattar

Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso

Thomas Almeida vs Rob Font


Kyle Bochniak vs Brandon Davis

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Sabah Homasi

Dustin Ortiz vs Alexandre Pantoja

Dan Ige vs Julio Arce


Enrique Barzola vs Matt Bessette 

Maryna Moroz vs Jamie Moyle 

Gleison Tibau vs Islam Makhachev 


I think there'll be a fight or two more added to this yet. The main card could do with one more semi biggish fight, I reckon. Not mega stacked but I do love that title fight double header and there's bits and pieces lower down the card that could be good. 



So Miocic vs Ngannou then. We've been starved of a heavyweight title fight since May but this one should more than make up for it. It's going to be upon us quick as well. Doesn't seem 2 minutes since this fight was announced, now it's only about a month away! 


There's Big Stipe, the fighting fireman, in his other line of work. He came into the UFC back in 2011 as nothing more than a 6-0 prospect. In less than a year he'd gone 3-0 in the UFC, 9-0 overall. He was put into his first main event in Nottingham in September 2012 against Stefan Struve. That would be his first career setback. They got FOTN but Miocic was knocked out in the second round. 

Looking to rebound from his first loss, Stipe came back and took decisions off veterans Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga in his next two fights. These fights weren't much cop from what I remember but looking back they were good and necessary learning fights for Stipe right when he needed them to rebuild his confidence. He bashed up an undersized Fabio Maldonado in May 2014 then took on Junior Dos Santos on Big FOX in December. He lost a razor close decision but it was a tremendous 5 round war and it was clear he was a vastly improved fighter compared to the guy we saw lose to Struve 2 years earlier. 

That was Stipe's second loss. And his last to date. 

In May 2015, Miocic started on a reign of terror through the heavyweight division. He beat the shit out of Mark Hunt in Australia for almost 5 rounds before the fight was mercifully stopped. He knocked out Andrei Arlovski in under a minute at UFC 195 in Jan '16.

Then in May 2016 he was granted a shot at the title. He knocked out Fabricio Werdum, inside a round, in Brazil, to become the new UFC heavyweight champion. 

He defended his title in September, getting up off the canvas to KO Alistair Overeem, again inside a round. He followed that up by knocking out JDS, you guessed it...inside a round, to avenge that 2014 defeat. 

Stipe Miocic. 35 years old. 17-2. Undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. 


The Baddest Man On The Planet. 

Or is he? 


Francis Ngannou was born in Cameroon. Grew up poor and, like many historically who grow up poor, he looked to boxing as a way out and a way to a better life. At 26 he moved to France with fuck all to his name. He was homeless, skint and on his own. But he was following his dream of becoming a boxer. He started training boxing at a gym in Paris in 2013 under his coach Fernand Lopez Owonyebe. But his coach had an MMA gym and saw a different path for the big man. 

So his MMA career began in November 2013. He won his first fight in quick fashion. But lost a decision in his second fight to a man called Zoumana Cisse. To this day, that's the only man to beat Ngannou. That's no doubt become a nice claim to fame for Mr Cisse. 

But yeah, at 1-1 in his young career, Ngannou decided this losing shit isn't for me. And he just started ripping through fuckers. After smashing four opponents on smaller shows, it was just a matter of time until the UFC came calling. And they did. 

December 19th 2015 is the date Ngannou made his UFC debut. He was the first fight on the Fight Pass prelims that night. A nobody jerking the curtain. He fought Luis Henrique. It somehow lasted into the second round but Henrique took a pasting then got KO'd. After stoppages over Curtis Blaydes, Bojan Mihajlovic and Anthony Hamilton in his next 3 fights it was clear that 'The Predator' needed a step up in competition. These guys just had nothing for him. 

So he was put in with Andrei Arlovski on Big FOX in January 2017. His biggest name opponent on the biggest stage and platform of his career. Arlovski lasted 1:32 before Ngannou wiped him out. 


10-1, dropping fools left and right and looking like he should be Prince Akeem's bodyguard in 'Coming To America'. What's not to love? He's exactly what a heavyweight should be in your imagination. The power, the presence, the look. 

And knocking Overeem's head into the 42nd row in his last fight didn't harm his stock...


Is Overeem awake yet? 

This is a killer fight. You can guess but you never really know what's going to happen once the cage door shuts. But I'd be amazed if this goes past a round. They're both just so lethal that 5 minutes should be plenty of time for something to detonate on impact. 

I'm hoping for a Ngannou win though. Love the big bastard and what a great story it'd be - from homeless to heavyweight king.



Cormier vs Oezdemir is the co-headliner. Such an intriguing matchup and clash of complete opposites in frames and fighting styles. Kind of an odd road to this one though. 


The last time we saw DC fight he looked like this. It was UFC 214 in July and he'd just been kicked in the head and knocked out by Jon Jones. He'd lost his title, he'd been stopped for the first time and he'd gone 0-2 to his career nemesis. He was absolutely devastated. 

Then came the twist. Jones fucked up yet again and failed the drug test. The result of DC's knockout loss was overturned to a No Contest and the UFC light heavyweight belt was stripped from Jones and returned to Cormier. 

Some shat on DC for accepting the title back. I get it, in a way, because regardless of Jones failing the test we did actually see DC lose with our own eyes. He's lost the aura of a champion rightly or wrongly. But put yourself in his position. He was the one who was wronged here. Jones tested dirty. And with the belt comes more money. Why should DC pass that up when it was Jones who caused this mess? The fact is DC's only career blemishes were to Jones, and now there's question marks on if Jones was ever clean. Personally I think Jones would've always beat DC, but we'll never know 100%. And that's on Jones. DC has beaten every other top 205er thrown at him. Including the two many thought the toughest challengers in the weight class - Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson. 

So with Jones out of the picture indefinitely, maybe forever, and the belt back on Cormier, the question became who'd get the next crack at DC? 

It came down to two names. Gustafsson being one. He'd just battered Glover Teixeira and put in one of the best performances of his career. A rematch between DC and Gus seemed like a no brainer. Especially as their first fight in 2015 was a FOTY contender. 

But a welcome and much needed fresh face had also emerged at 205 and put himself on the map...


Switzerland's Volkan Oezdemir was pretty much unknown at the start of 2017. It's a cool story how he got here. He'd knocked around a little bit, had a couple of fights in Bellator and had a good 12-1 record but he wasn't on anybody's radar. Early this year he was all set to fight for Titan FC. And to put it in perspective, he wasn't even going to be on the main card! But then he got the call from the UFC to step in on short notice to fight Ovince Saint Preux. He took the fight and managed to beat OSP by decision. A good win but didn't really make any waves.

But in his next fight he knocked out Misha Cirkunov in 28 seconds in Sweden. Cirkunov was being talked up as a top prospect at 205 previously. This win got people's attention but could've been a one off case of the right shot at the right time.

In July, on the undercard of Cormier vs Jones 2, Oezdemir got his toughest test yet in British banger Jimi Manuwa. 42 seconds it took Volkan to flatten him. 

Volkan Oezdemir had well and truly arrived. From the Titan FC prelims to 3-0 in the UFC and the #1 contender within 6 months. Crazy. 

Rumble Johnson can't speak highly enough of Oezdemir. This is what he said in July after Volkan KO'd Manuwa...

"Nobody knows who he is. Nobody knows how hard he works. Nobody knows how truly good he is, you know what I mean? Volkan might be slow, he might not look marketable and stuff but the boy has heart. He's tough. He's super tough. He was my main training partner for all of my fights over the last year, year and a half, and he took my shots and I didn't drop him. Like, I kicked him upside the head a couple of times and he didn't drop. Punched him square in his face and he didn't drop. Volkan is tough! People don't understand how tough he really is." 

"He deserves it (the title shot) at this point. He deserves it. Gustafsson had two title shots, I had two title shots, they need some new blood in there. And Volkan is definitely making waves now. Especially after beating Jimi the way that he did. I knocked Jimi out in the second round. Volkan just did it in, what, 2 minutes?! Something like that? He made ME look bad! Y'all don't understand how excited I am for Volkan right now." - Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson

So with that, Cormier put it out there on twitter and left it up to the fans to decide who should be next - Gustafsson or Oezdemir. The fans spoke...


And they said Vote Volkan! 

There was more to it than that, obviously. The UFC wanted DC vs Volkan as well. 

And here we are. I don't really know what to make of this one. I'm guessing there'll be a lot of people picking Volkan by KO. A lot of MMA fans often go solely on how you looked in your most recent fight. Volkan scored a quick KO, DC got his arse kicked. But it doesn't always mean a lot. DC has beat everyone not named Jon Jones. He's a great, great fighter and he just finds a way to beat these guys who are bigger, faster, stronger, younger, more powerful etc. And Oezdemir is still a bit of a mystery. All we really know about him is he hits really hard. We don't know what his grappling is like, what his cardio is like over 5 rounds and so on. And DC is going to test that. It's an interesting one. 



Thomas Almeida vs Rob Font is this card's ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH***. It's a fight that's probably going to go under the radar and not get talked about much going in but it's got all the ingredients of an absolute stormer. Almeida is a whirlwind of offence. Really exciting fighter, dangerous as fuck and a proper finisher. Out of his 22 wins he's finished 20 opponents. He doesn't fuck about. And I really like Font. He's had a couple of losses but he's fun to watch and mega aggressive himself so he should match up great with Almeida here. Looking forward to this one a lot. 



Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso will probably be entertaining just on account of it involving Gian Villante. You don't often see him in anything resembling dull. He's lost 3 of his last 4 so he badly needs a W here but he's the type they'll probably give more leeway to when it comes to losses because he's exciting and probably doesn't cost them too much to keep around. 



Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Sabah Homasi 2 is a do-over of their first fight at UFC 218 a few weeks back. Alhassan won by first round TKO but the stoppage was dodgy so they're running it back. Was a really good scrap before the stoppage so I'm glad they're doing it again. 



Dustin Ortiz vs Alexandre Pantoja is a sleeper for me on this card. A lot of these flyweight fights seem to blend together and go unnoticed but I think this is a good 'un. I like Ortiz. He's a really good fighter and seems to have all the tools but for whatever reason he hasn't been able to put together a streak. He did score the fastest stoppage in flyweight history in his last fight in August though - a 15 second KO against Hector Sandoval. Pantoja looks good too. 18-2 and on an 11 fight streak. Had an excellent fight against Neil Seery in Seery's swansong in July. Should be a quality fight this. 



Maryna Moroz vs Jamie Moyle could be decent. Don't think I've seen Moyle fight but I like watching Moroz. Like with Dustin Ortiz, she seems to have a good skillset but just hasn't been able to string the wins together. She's only lost twice and it was to former champions and contenders in Esparza and Letourneau but still, she's one of those fighters who I think should be doing better. Her best win up to now was her quick sub against Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut. 



Gleison Tibau vs Islam Makhachev is another solid under the radar fight. Tibau is back! Fresh off a USADA suspension. He last fought in 2015. It'll be interesting to see how he looks physique-wise for this one. He was one of those guys who always looked absolutely jacked but coming off the juice we might see him looking like the shrivelled up prune on legs Vitor Belfort is these days. Tibau is still only 34 somehow! Seems like he's been around forever, doesn't it? I remember Makhachev being pretty good as well. Solid 14-1 record. Hasn't fought since Feb but he's coming off his biggest win to date, a decision over Nik Lentz where I recall he looked impressive. 


Fun card on paper. Could do with something a little extra but I like what's there. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Wonderful write up, wand. I didn't fully realise how excited I was for DC v 'No Time' until I finished your write up; as you typed, there are so many questions to be answered.

Stipe v Ngannou for Baddest Man On The Planet is as excited I've been for a heavyweight clash since JDS/Cain 2. Two killers in there. It will be interesting to see Stipe's approach, because he's probably got more tools than Ngannou, but no idea if he'll get round to implementing them. Stipe's fight with Mark Hunt may be a game plan worth revisiting, but who knows how Ngannou's TK defence is better than we imagine.

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D.C's resume at 205lbs lacks depth, but his best wins more than make up for it. Jones - despite his shortcomings outside of the cage - is the undisputed number 1 inside the cage. But an argument could be made that D.C is number 2. Wins over ancient and undersized versions of Hendo and Anderson, and a knockout win over Cummins aren't much to write home about. They are decent wins, but on their own, they don't prove beyond doubt that D.C is a great Light Heavyweight. However, his 2 wins over Rumble and his win over Gusty nudge him into contention for top 3 of all-time at 205lbs. He broke Rumble twice, a fighter that would have given the Light Heavies of the mid/late 00's fits. I scored the Gusty fight 4-1 in D.C's favour. That scoreline is not reflective of what actually happened in the cage that night, as a lot of the rounds could have easily been scored either way. But the same Gusty had gone to the wire with Jones previously, as is probably in the top 5 head to head MMA Light Heavyweight ever; so D.C merely getting the win over him is still very impressive. 

Jones, Gusty and Rumble have all had Cormier on shaky legs. Given that, it stands to reason that Oezdemir can do the same, provided that he's as dangerous a striker as he's billed to be. Yet, I still think D.C is favourite to win. He is the more proven of the two fighters. Oezdemir's ceiling is unknown, but is it likely that he'll be an upgrade over Gusty - who D.C was able to edge out? It's possible that he could be, but it seems a bit unlikely. There's always the chance that D.C has gotten old overnight, but it certainly didn't look that way last time out. Before the round where he was stopped, he was giving Jones a lot of issues. Therefore, I think D.C will withstand a few shaky moments, and will win handily on points. 

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34 minutes ago, John Matrix said:

For those of you who enjoyed those Ngannou/Overeem edits I posted the other week, here's your boy responsible proving once again how fucking wank and lazy the UFC's graphics team is.



Not really.

It's just that the graphics team will be subservient to a broader marketing team who's main concern will be consistency of brand, not the creativity of individual posters. The gospel according to marketing is that you must have a strong, consistent brand which penetrates all level of promotion.

As good as most fan art is, it lives in a vacuum. And, yes, it's very creative but all it does is promote the individual event. The remit the graphic designers of the UFC (and any ATV-plus brands) will have is to promote individual events within the context of promoting the brand first and foremost. That massively limits the ability to be uniquely creative, and reactive to the personality of the individuals involved.

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2 hours ago, d-d-d-dAz said:

Not really.

It's just that the graphics team will be subservient to a broader marketing team who's main concern will be consistency of brand, not the creativity of individual posters. The gospel according to marketing is that you must have a strong, consistent brand which penetrates all level of promotion.

As good as most fan art is, it lives in a vacuum. And, yes, it's very creative but all it does is promote the individual event. The remit the graphic designers of the UFC (and any ATV-plus brands) will have is to promote individual events within the context of promoting the brand first and foremost. That massively limits the ability to be uniquely creative, and reactive to the personality of the individuals involved.

A point as valid as mine was ignorant sir.

You are absolutely right of course, but equally, marketing isn't necessarily a linear thing and sure, the arguement re stale visuals stems mainly from those already consuming the product, but they are important group to appease.

I mean sure, the net worth of any company I work for equates to pocket change, but it's not unusual for promoters to request both an online graphic aimed at hardcores and something far more basic for bunging in shop windows.

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220 press conference with Dana, Miocic, Ngannou, Cormier and Oezdemir.

Dana quote;


"Francis Ngannou has the world record for the most powerful punch. His punch is the equivalent to 96 horsepower, which is equal to getting hit by a Ford Escort going as fast as it can. And it's more powerful than a 12lb sledgehammer swung full force from overhead. HOLY SHIT!"

As ridiculously awesome as that quote was, Stipe's face while Dana was saying it made it even better...


Edited by wandshogun09
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I know that we can give out about the ways that the UFC promote their own fighters, but when they want to, they can make something seem totally unmissable.

Another fantastic video that they've published. 

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Has the UFC ever promoted a heavyweight like they have Franics Ngannou? it seems fairly clear that they have hopes of him taking the belt from Stipe. Maybe its the current lack of star names driving it, but the UFC definitely see some sort of star potential him. 

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I'm enjoying the Ngannou hype. It's always nice to have a fresh and exciting prospect burst onto the scene, and sets the game alight. I hope he lives up to the hype and stops Miocic convincingly. 

However, the value is with Miocic. The bookies have him as a slight underdog (+150 or 11/7). If I were a betting man, I would be tempted by those odds. Miocic is the more proven of the two. In a shootout, I slightly favour Ngannou. Beyond that, I favour Miocic. 

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